Occupational therapists help patients learn how to do the things they need to do for independent living. The patients may have mental, physical, developmental or emotional problems that have made it hard for them to maintain their daily living or work skills. Occupational therapists work to improve patients’ motor skills and reasoning abilities or develop ways to work around the permanent loss of skills. The job has many benefits.
Occupational therapy is a fast-growing occupation. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the number of jobs for occupational therapists will increase by 26 percent between 2008 and 2018, which is “much faster than the average for all occupations.” This growth is driven by the aging population as well as the increasing number of people with disabilities. Both groups require the services of occupational therapists. As special-education services expand in schools, the need for occupational therapists there will also grow.
With the fast growth of jobs, there will be opportunities in most places throughout the United States. The Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that the jobs should also be available in all settings, particularly acute hospitals, rehabilitation centers and orthopedic settings. Your job prospects will increase if you have specialized knowledge in a specific treatment area, such as driver rehabilitation or ergonomic consulting.
Occupational therapists also receive annual bonuses as a benefit of their work. The amount of the bonus tends to vary by the experience of the occupational therapist. Therapists with five to nine years experience received a median bonus of $1,468 in 2010, according to Payscale.com. Even occupational therapists with less than a year of experience receive a median of $1,014 a year as a bonus.
Occupational therapists also receive annual paid vacation time as a job benefit. The number of paid vacation days varies with experience, particularly the years of experience with the same employer. For occupational therapists with one to 19 years experience, the average annual vacation time was 2.2 weeks in 2010, according to Payscale.com. Occupational therapists with less than a year of experience averaged 1.9 weeks of vacation while therapists with 20 years or more experience averaged two weeks a year of paid vacation time.
Given that occupational therapists work in the medical field, it shouldn’t be too surprising that they receive health insurance as a job benefit. This includes medical insurance, vision insurance, disability coverage, cancer coverage and dental insurance. Occupational therapists who travel often for short-term work in different locations around the country can also receive accident coverage and private housing.
2016 Salary Information for Occupational Therapists
Occupational therapists earned a median annual salary of $81,910 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, occupational therapists earned a 25th percentile salary of $67,140, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $99,300, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 130,400 people were employed in the U.S. as occupational therapists.